The Old and the New, Shea Lopez Weighs in on the Final Action From the 6.0 Lowers Pro

| posted on May 08, 2010

A triumphant Gabe Kling gets chaired up the beach after winning the 6.0 Lowers Pro

A triumphant Gabe Kling gets chaired up the beach after winning the 6.0 Lowers Pro / Photo: Ellis

I’d like to begin by thanking everyone that joined us this week. Whether you were physically on the beach at Lowers enjoying the perfect stretch of SoCal weather, or online for the webcast anchored by the larger-than-life Peter Mel, we were all able to walk away from this event knowing that it was truly one for the ages. Now for the action. You see, what you just witnessed was surf contest’s version 2.0. For roughly the past 20 years, surf contests have been held back by their own past. Unable to break from the age-old adage, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” events inched forward with their progression while the standard of surfing went through the roof.

Not anymore.

Evidenced by the action at Lowers over the past week, the judges are making it painfully obvious that they want to see the cream rise to the top, and there is no better venue on Earth more suited for this than Lowers on a clean 4- to 6-foot swell. Offering huge scoring potential on either the right or the left, if you weren’t able to link multiple rail-burying carves or fin-flying lippers, there was little hope of scoring above the 5-point range. If those turns, however impressive, didn’t hold water against those performed by Andy Irons, then you weren’t staring at anything above a 7.  End of story. The new criteria has forced everyone to grow wings, or in a few cases, open up their wings and demonstrate what they’ve been holding back. Every day, every heat,  a new performance barrier was being shattered as—insert one of a dozen plus guys’ names here—were linking multiple big moves and aerial combinations all the way to the famed cobbles. Highlights of the best rides are still bouncing around in my head like memories of my favorite surf video. In one 30-minute heat alone, Jordy Smith put together enough clips for his own stellar video part. In another, the air combos John Florence seamlessly linked were big enough for him to bypass the name John John and become Johnny Boy, all in the course of a single wave.

As has become the status quo, there were quite a few groms who used the perfect lips at Lowers to show the world that they’re worthy of the hype. Kolohe Andino performed dynamically enough to post an 8.83 on one wave, and through multiple heats he managed to take down some very seasoned surfers with his eclectic mix of progressive and technical surfing. Along with Evan Geiselman and Gabriel Medina, these kids are going to make things extremely tough in the very near future for everyone on tour…even the much heralded rookie class already causing a stir on the WT. The new breed is never very far away.

Even with the focus squared away on progressive surfing and the new talent morphing the face of competition, in the end, it was eight proven WT competitors who fought their way into the quarterfinals. Showing that wherever the judges choose to place the emphasis on in the criteria, the best surfers in the world will adapt and rise to the top. With WT vets Chris Davidson and Gabe Kling slated together in the final, ironically enough, the main event proved to be a battle of fundamentals. It was a fluid mix of precision on beautiful set waves. It was spray-throwing combinations of top-turns, lip-blasts, and roundhouses—the very surfing that proves that no matter how far above the lip and technical surfing advances, the true benchmark of a great surfer is what he does while on the wave’s face. And at the end of the day, that surfer was Florida’s Gabe Kling.

Gabe’s win today was a testament to hard work, to putting your head down and fighting your way through the many challenges life presents you with. Today he fought right through Cory Lopez, Jordy Smith, Andy Irons, and Chris Davidson. This effort has put him in prime position to reclaim his spot on the WT, the same one that he lost to a questionable injury wildcard decision. Congrats, Gabe.

6.0 Lowers Pro Final Results:

1- Gabe Kling (USA) 16.50
2- Chris Davidson (AUS) 11.77

6.0 Lowers Pro Semifinals Results:

Heat 1: Chris Davidson (AUS) 14.93 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.53
Heat 2: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.86 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 12.64

6.0 Lowers Pro Quarterfinals Results:

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.27 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.44
Heat 2: Chris Davidson (USA) 14.93 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.40
Heat 3: Andy Irons (HAW) 18.57 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.93
Heat 4: Gabe Kling (USA) 16.50 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.77

6.0 Lowers Pro Round of 16 Results:

Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.77 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.33
Heat 2: Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.43 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.06 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 7.50
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.90 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.17
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) 13.33 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 12.60
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.94 def. John John Florence (HAW) 8.40
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.90 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 10.60
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.67 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.10

Oakley Pro Junior Final Results:

1- Andrew Doheny (USA) 17.10
2- Nat Young (USA) 15.40
3- Dylan Goodale (HAW) 14.17
4- Tyler Newton (HAW) 13.60

Oakley Pro Junior Semifinals Results:

Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) 17.33, Tyler Newton (HAW) 12.33, Evan Thompson (USA) 10.44, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.34
Heat 2: Dylan Goodale (HAW) 16.46, Andrew Doheny (USA) 14.84, Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.83, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 8.53

  • Bert

    Nothing against Gabe personally, he’s probably a great guy, but him winning the contest was the worst possible outcome. For all the mind blowing performances that were witnessed on day 3 and 4, it was one of the least exciting surfers to watch in the comp that took the win. Almost reinforcing the notion that competitive surfing rewards the tortoise not the hare. Gabe’s solid surfing and tactics won out. Andy, Davo, CJ, Jordy were more powerful. Jadson, Dane, John John, Kerr- the list goes on- were more radical and progressive. In a contest with historical overall performances, it ends with a whimper, not a bang. Congrats Gabe on your win…

  • WS

    I was on the beach and watched Gabe spank Jordy, Andy, and Davo. Was Gabe “progressive”? Not really but his rides were better, more powerful and more complete in the end. Gabe deserved the win….especially considering that the ASP screwed him and gave his slot to brazzo-roid Neco and lanky Steds.

  • MIk

    Don’t get too over-amped on your Floridian pal, Shea. Yeah, Kling surfed well. But he is not even remotely close to being in the same league as either Andy Irons, who broke a board and didn’t get much of a wave to surf on after that distraction (which should not have been a distraction, BTW Andy), or Jordy who also didn’t get much to work on. Kling kinda plodded his way smartly through what was given him. He’s basically lucky Davo didn’t smoke him. End of article.

  • whamo

    Damn, Shea Lopez has the rhetorical skills of Cicero, employing klimax to great effect. I didn’t agree with the contest judging, although I had no arguments with the winner, as I didn’t even watch most of the last day. I couldn’t believe a guy getting a fat tube at Lower’s only rated a seven, and Swell Peter Mel laughed at me online for rating it a ten. I mean, man, I surfed a good 30 years, a lot, and to me, getting a tube is the most radical thing you can do on a wave, in the most critical part of the wave, and demands the most wave judgment, and skill, and perhaps a little luck. But I was impressed by the twists and turns of the new wave. It wasn’t just the up-and-down, up-and-down, oscillations of the past, with a lot of the new wave surfers employing a variety of different gouges and cuts and airs. I don’t really go for the silly skateboard inspired tricks and spins, but the ones that string together to create speed and power, those blew my mind. I hate contests, always have, and always will, but I loved that Lower’s contest. It wasn’t just the winner that was blowing up. Dozens of guys were ripping, hard, and I tip my cap to all of them. I was especially impressed by the surfers that realized they had to really build up speed to connect and pass through to the inside. And some of hose hacks off the top were incredible. I hope the September contest gets a really good 8-10 foot low-tide South swell that lines up all the way across.

  • ray

    The commentating was horrendous for this event. Please remove the microphone from “the drifter”. The misuse of the quote “throwing caution to the wind” was perpetuated by Machado who was his usual half-awake self. The over-use of the terms “flurry”, and “gem” were like nails on a chalkboard. The other announcers made him feel better by describing him as “world’s #2 at one point.” I was trying to figure out who exactly in the NIKE 6.0 management thought it was a bright idea to bring such a dim bulb into the room. Machado can surf, but cannot articulate a wave from a puddle.

  • Dude!

    Kling still surfs like it’s 1995. No biggy Klingy, but you gotta step it up!

  • surfercrit

    If Brett simpson would of won and someone critized his win it would never be posted by surfer… end of story

  • East Coast

    West Coast is bitter once again! Geez, why can’t you guys just give Gabe his props and that be it?

  • dan

    some of you bashing Kling are just a bunch of clowns!! Contests are contests, and this is a judging sport.. You have 25 – 30 minutes to be judged on a max of 10+ waves during that time limit, bottom line…. Doesn’t matter who is in it, if you get lucky and get the long rides, connect the turns, stay smooth and powerful, judges like it, then you win, bottom line! So, for all you haters on Kling (and I agree that he is not the most progressive surfer, there are kids like J. Wilson or O. Wright), Kling surfed hard and did what he needed to do, during the the time he needed to surf. Kling is the champ of the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro 2010, had two good waves during the final and won! Take your bitching to your bedroom and suck it! Thanks for the great webcast, since I am way far away from California..

  • mattman

    whamo hates contests and always has, but aparrently not too much to watch online, comment online, and get mad when peter mel writes him off.

    personally, i hate online comments at the end of articles, and always have…

  • RH

    I actually thought it was fitting that Gabe won this contest, since Gabe’s surfing is to true high performance what Trestles is to a true high performance wave. Fairly stylish, but not as powerful or critical as one would like to see. Maybe if you SoCal denizens had rawer waves, it would have been won by a better Floridian escapee… or actually probably Jordy. Hell, even Winkipop is a higher performance wave, and those who thought this contest was the ultimate were not watching the last two CT’s unbiasedly. Even that awfully mushy (for Brazil, even) wave in the last contest saw higher performance… (probably just a function of better surfers… that wave was burgery even for the immediate area)… until a bad-tide final… and, the same could be said for the “Bells area” contest. But, hey, can’t always have a Hollywood ending, even in La-La land.

  • Dave Leonard

    surfing a contest does require some luck, any pro surfer will tell you that. gabe had some on his side for lowers. he did beat the top guys in the world to make that final……..for some of you to be upset it wasnt a dane and jordy final, to bad, life isnt fair. while gabe might be the one not doing huge airs, he did huge turns and surfed smooth, surfing isnt just about flying rotating 360 airs, it is a mixture of everything. i agree on some of the commentating comments, they need to mix it up more with different people. shea surfed the WCT for many years, never claimed he was a writer and i think he is qualified to write and article on a surfing contest. typical west coast cali idiots who probably cant even do a turn on a wave, ragging on gabe. it just goes to show you that florida surfers are just better surfers, just look at the past 10 years on the WCT. A I if you read this keep it up, nice to watch you surf again. gabe congrats.

  • juanlu burgos

    the problem is ASP Dream Tour standards are 95’s thats why we get 95’s performances. o no?

  • juanlu burgos

    i meant wave standards.sorry.

  • http://surfer Scott O

    I felt this was a groundbreaking contest in terms of the manuvers that were attempted and completed. Watching Jadson due that crazy forward fin whip air left me dumbstruck. Jordy was the performer of the event, stylish, powerful and able to pull the new school moves with speed and flow. Webcast was solid with the multiple cameras and replays enablaling us to see all the waves. Peter Mel sets the standard in webcasting, well done!

  • Bones

    Agreed! Really the best level of surfing yet. Even with the Juniors! English major grad here and former NSSA groveller. Lopez can write well and Kling had the turns to win. Not always does the best surfer win but he did have enough in each heat to advance, and he clearly took the final. The waves always are weak for finals, especially on this coast. One of the best stops of any tour! Thank you.

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